WEST DUMMERSTON—One of the longest running sagas in Windham County real estate history came to a close with the announcement on May 24 that the Maple Valley Ski Area has been sold.
According to a news release from Sally Fegley and Steve Schoppmeyer of Better Homes and Gardens The Masiello Group in Brattleboro, the long-defunct ski area on Route 30 was sold for $745,000 to Sugar Mountain Holdings LLC of Weatogue, Conn., on May 23.
Included in the deal is a 16,000-square-foot base lodge and 374 acres of property, plus the lifts and on-hill facilities such as lighting for night skiing, snowmaking equipment, and diesel generators that powered the lodge and lifts.
According to Fegley and Schoppmeyer, the buyer hasn’t revealed plans for its new use.
The property had originally been listed for $950,000.
Maple Valley was built by Terry Tyler in 1963 during the boom years for Vermont skiing. But the snow droughts and energy crises of the 1970s, combined with the growth of the larger, fancier ski resorts like Mount Snow and Stratton, put little ski areas such as Maple Valley into a steep financial decline that they couldn’t recover from.
The ski area has been closed since the 1999-2000 season. When Maple Valley was last open, it had 16 trails and 365 acres of skiable terrain and operated two double-chair lifts and a T-bar lift. It featured a vertical drop of 1,000 feet.
The last owner of the property was Nicolas Mercede of Stamford, Conn., whose MVS Associates acquired the property at a foreclosure auction in 1997. After Maple Valley ceased operations in 2000, the ski area sat idle and attracted little interest from potential buyers.
There was a flurry of activity in June 2011 when Mercede filed a permit with the Dummerston Development Review Board to turn Maple Valley into a year-round resort with mountain bike trails and music concerts in the summer.
After complaints from abutters about noise and light pollution, and concerns about how many events a year would take place at the ski area, Mercede withdrew his permit application, and the resort returned to its mothballed status.
While there is precedent for long-mothballed ski areas to find a second life, such as the current ongoing rebirth of Magic Mountain in Londonderry, many have since vanished and been reclaimed by the forests around them.
According to the New England Lost Ski Areas Project (www.nelsap.org), 119 ski areas have closed in Vermont since the 1940s. Most were small-town hills served by rope tows, but southern Vermont has seen the closure of once-popular resorts such as Ascutney Mountain, Dutch Hill, Hogback, Prospect Mountain, and Timber Ridge since the 1980s.